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Dancing with Myself

So. I’ve been trying for a few weeks now, to start a sort of collaborative group with some friends of mine. We want to write parodies, and then maybe comic songs that are not parodies, and then, maybe, one day, actual songs. Which is, I think, the least likely of the aforementioned events–but who knows? There are services that will notate your rubbish, half-baked melody and semi-unique, half-decent lyrics, if you cannot write music yourself. We’ve maybe got a chance.

The trouble is, every time I sit down to write a thing with someone, it never seems to pan out. So far, the following has happened several times: someone else gives me a line, I either take it as is or reword it slightly, I go away, and I come back an hour later with a really cute, fully-formed parody (one of which made it onto Facebook, and everyone loved it and praised me accordingly). All of which is great; none of which is collaboration, in the truest sense of the word.

When the Monty Python guys were writing, there was always one left out (I don’t recall which one). But basically, there were 2 pairings who wrote together a lot, and the 5th one was forever banging the, “Why will no one write with me?” drum, all the while churning out comparable stuff to the rest of the guys… but alone. I remember hearing that when I was a teenager, and thinking how sad, how lonely, that seemed. (At that point, I had a parody buddy–and we were shit-hot. 2-3 parodies a week, every week, about half written separately, and about half together. That was the life.)

But now… somehow I can’t seem to find another parody buddy. I’ve gone from being the girl *everyone* could write with (truly, I could work with anyone) to being someone who can write with maybe one of the others in our little group. Don’t get me wrong, my work is still solid–you set me a task, you can bank on something so good you’ll wish you’d written it yourself–and I’m fairly prolific, but… what’s happened to the collaborative aspect of all this? Am I out of practice? Am I just too old, now? Has my brain lost enough plasticity that I can no longer mould myself to the cadences and quirks of another?

Is it simply that I grew up in the States, and all my friends now are British, and we lack the shared history for in-jokes that are universally relatable, and the context to frame them in?

Whatever the reason, it’s a sorry state of affairs when being in a group only makes me feel more alone.

Oh, wait. That’s just life as I know it.

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Talking to Myself

It occurs to me, that for all people love to tell me how much they adore my writing, very few people say the words publicly. In a medium like this, there’s plenty of scope for personal comments on a particular entry (especially if you know or suspect it’s about yourself) but… even my real-life friends don’t really comment, here.

It’s okay. I’m not talking about the majority of them anyway… most of my friends, they give me as much as I give them, and I couldn’t in good conscience ask them to obsess over my life the way I do. I mean, this is the whole proof of why I’m a good writer: like the song says, I could write it better than you ever felt it. But reading the story and being amused or interested is not the same as having enough emotional investment to comment on it–it didn’t happen to them, it happened to me, and only I *should* care enough to write about it.

This always happens to me, eventually. I talk and talk in an empty room, and wonder why it’s only my own voice I hear, echoing back at me. This is largely the reason for my recent spurt of doing things: karaoke, ballroom dancing, song parodies, trying to get into a brick university, trying to set up a YouTube channel with mates… I know I have to do these things in front of people, for them to comment; and this blog is more or less a dirty secret, I certainly don’t post it on my Facebook Wall or anything, I don’t *try* to get everyone to look at it.

I can’t escape the fact that some things, I have been trying to get people to look at, though. In some areas of my life, I’m giving a good impression of being downright extroverted–and still, no one’s paying attention.

What if I did *this* more openly, and no one noticed it, either? Then what would I have to offer the world?

Nothing. Out of all the things I think I can maybe do, this is the one I’m best at. If people don’t care about my writing….? I got nothin’.

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“I Heard There Was A Secret Chord…”

You all know the song, right? Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”? And how it starts with there being a secret chord, which David plays, and it pleases the Lord, maybe; but it’s not so much pleasing the other person in the equation (in the song, this is presumably the singer’s ex-lover). But in the original reference the playing *does* please the other person, so much that they actually can’t function without out. Which raises an interesting question.

First, though, the reference itself: I trust you know, it’s based on the Bible (what most Christians call the Bible, anyway) and I really, really hope you know the story of David, Jonathan, and Saul, because it’s beautiful, in a heartbreaking kinda way. I’ll probably cover it at some point–King David was the main reason I wanted to name a boy David, if I ever had one, and although I changed my mind later, the inspiration still stands–King David is my all-time favourite Bible character.

For the purposes of this entry, though, I need to focus more on King Saul, David’s predecessor.

Essentially, Saul was an intentional mistake, put in charge of the nation of Israel to show them up, and reveal how much better God was at ruling them than a human would be. Basically, God lets the Israelites choose a king, and they pick a big dude who’s shit-hot on the battlefield (maybe, like, a little unhinged? a berserker, prone to unquenchable bloodlust?) and he turns out to be a great warrior, but not such a great king. Then middle age comes upon him, he gets depressed (or gets an actual evil spirit tormenting him, if you believe that sort of thing–either way, the end result is a load of misery, I mean, there’s a reason we liken mental illness to “battling our demons”, and it’s not because the situations are dissimilar) and he has to send for someone to come and play music to quiet his inner torment (or to make the demon go away, whichever you prefer).

Enter, Not-Yet-King David. A youngest son and a shepherd by trade, he’s actually a pretty cool kid: morally upright and sensible and reliable, also athletic and already something of a bad-ass (he’s forever killing wild animals with a slingshot, and keeping all his sheep safe, and doing a bunch of properly grown-up shit) but eternally overlooked, because he has like a hundred older brothers (6, I think–I haven’t read the story in years) and so no one gives little David the time of day. Then, he gets singled out (different part of the story) and sent to the palace, and what do you know, on top of being an all-round bad-ass, little David plays a mean lyre, as well.

But *not* a mean one; a lovely, soothing, melodic lyre, played so beautifully and skilfully that it chases all King Saul’s demons away. They get into a groove: Saul has a shrieking panic attack, he sends for David, David pulls out the B.C.E. equivalent of an acoustic guitar, and he singer/songwriters Saul and his evil spirits into blissful relaxation. And just like that, Saul–a man teetering right on the edge of suicidal, homicidal depression–manages to carry on ruling for years to come.

My question is this: what would have happened to Saul, if, when he called for David, David never showed?

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“Samson” (Regina Spektor)

A few months back, I heard a beautiful song, by an artist I wish I’d started listening to years ago. During the first flush of love for a new singer/songwriter, I went off to YouTube and listened to several of her songs; but mostly, this one on repeat. In the course of reading numerous user comments, I kept stumbling over the idea that the song is actually about a cancer patient and/or specifically, should have been written in response to the book, “The Fault in Our Stars”. One of the comments was, also, arguing that the song is about the biblical couple, Samson and Delilah (it absolutely *is* about that Samson) and I penned a response touching on all of the above points–I never posted it, because I hadn’t yet read or seen “TFIOS”. Having read it now, I feel justified in blogging my response to this heartrending, exquisite song:

(Do remember, this is a response to the pithy and well-thought-out comment “Duh, this song is totally about Samson and Delilah from the Bible, geez, if you’d read it you’d know that–she sings that she LOVES him, Delilah was the lover of Samson…”)

Yes… but the song also says, “History books forgot about us, and the Bible didn’t mention us… not even once”. Are you suggesting that the Bible and/or other books don’t mention Delilah? Also–Samson had at least one love, before he met Delilah (he was married, according to the Bible, about 20 years before the whole Delilah thing)–can you tell me how someone else could have been with Samson first (“I loved you first”) if that person *was* Delilah?

Or–and maybe this is far-fetched, but bear with me–maybe song is actually a metaphor for something else. Say, the girl singing is meant to be a modern-day Samson’s first love (before Delilah, or any other women) and when he leaves her, she can’t get over it (“you are my sweetest downfall”) but, sadly, the girl he chooses (a “Delilah” character) turns out to be *his* downfall (you know the story: strength-sapping haircut, his eventual death) and what we’re listening to now is his first, pre-Delilah love, mourning the fact that her Samson is gone and no one even knows about their relationship.

If, as other posters have suggested, this song is about a friend/lover of Regina’s who had cancer, the song itself makes even more sense. “Your hair was long when we first met,” fits the Samson theme, but it also makes sense for a modern-day cancer patient who’s had/having chemo; and the idea that he went back to bed, weak and too sick to eat anything other than a slice of white bread, after she cuts his hair first, before “Delilah”/cancer can remove it all… I don’t know about you, but I find that a very compelling explanation for the imagery in the song. It also adds a layer of meaning to why she really can’t get over him… I think if your first love dies tragically and unexpectedly, it’s going to have a longer-lasting impact than if you break up and he starts dating a girl you think is bad for him.

Thoughts?

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